The celebrity chef has emerged successful in her counter-claim against a disgruntled former employee, but her career may already be too damaged to repair.
Paula Deen may finally be able to rest a little easier in the coming days, as the disgraced celebrity chef has emerged victorious in her court battle against a former employee claiming she was subjected to racial and sexual prejudice. The ruling federal judge at her case in Savannah, Georgia, threw out the claim against Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers by disgruntled former employee Lisa Jackson, with the judge claiming that she had no right to make the claim in the first place - because she's white. However, her claim of sexual harassment still stands and the court case is due to drag on a little longer.
Deen's legal worries aren't all over yet
The chef, who recently turned down an offer to appear on the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars, may look to be out of the woods, but she is by no means in the clear yet as she now has to clear her name in the public psyche, a task that is going to require one heck of a PR team. Since her racial case was thrown out PR gurus from across the States have concluded that despite what the courts have found, the public's mind is already made up and the die has already been cast on Deen's career. Reputation.com vice chairman Howard Bragman said (reprinted by USA Today) following the court's decision, "As I've said all along, you have to play in the court of law and you have to play in the court of public opinion. Like O.J. Simpson, who won in the court of law but lost in the court of public opinion -- Paula 's in the same situation. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube now. It's going to be really challenging for her to piece this together."
Despite her court victory, her career may already been wrecked beyond help
Similarly, the CEO of public relations group Strategic Vision, David E. Johnson is quoted as saying, "the narrative has been set," and the idea that Deen is "not the sweet lady we thought she was" was erased months ago when the whole saga began with the New York Time's profile on one of Deen's former cooks. He added, "it's death by 1,000 cuts. You get one thing to go away but you still have others popping up it seems almost simultaneously."
It was one heck of a fall from grace for Deen and in the aftermath of the scandal coming to light, she was routinely dropped by the Food Network and her many corporate backers, including Wal-mart, QVC, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, Target and more, whilst her publisher, Random House's Ballantine Books, canceled her forthcoming cookbook. In the midst of all this however, her in-print books saw their sale numbers soar during the whole scandal and with her recent courting by DWTS, Deen's career may look to be finished, but there might still be life left in it. In the meantime, all Deen can do is continue to move forward and attempt to salvage what she can of both her business empire and her reputation.
Deen arrives at the 2010 Miss USA pageant